LSU offense lacking against Kentucky

Ronald Dupree had his customary double-double performance, with 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Torris Bright provided 17 points, but LSU's two-man attack wasn't enough to offset constant surges from Kentucky. With little or no offensive contributions from the rest of the roster, the Tigers had difficulty keeping up with the Wildcats' scoring runs in a 68-56 loss Saturday at the Maravich Assembly Center.

The loss was the sixth straight for the Tigers, who haven't won since Jan. 19. The fall to 12-11 and 2-8 in Southeastern Conference play. Kentucky improved to 16-16, 6-4 in league play.

 

Kentucky attacked LSU's zone defense in the first half with a sterling perimeter game, getting 14 points from Tayshaun Prince on 4-of-4 shooting on three-pointers. Throughout the game, the Tigers struggled to prevent put-back baskets and couldn't cash in on their offensive opportunities close to the basket.

 

"We've got to find somebody else to score the ball besides two people," said LSU coach John Brady. "From an offensive standpoint, we just fight that some."

 

Brady continued his experimentation with his lineup, giving sophomore JueMichael Young his first career start and junior forward Thomas Davis his second opportunity in a row, but the two were a combined 1-of-7 from the floor. Freshman Antonio Hudson got his fifth career start but missed all five of his shots from the field.

 

Young left the game after six minutes and Davis, who has nursed an injury, played a total of 14 minutes. Four of Davis' six points game from the free throw line.

 

Jermaine Williams led LSU's bench with seven points, including a slam-dunk basket over Prince following a steal he made near mid-court with 14:05 left in the game. Both players tumbled down below the basket as the PMAC crowd, sprinkled with good portions of UK fans, erupted with hopes of a comeback after the play cut Kentucky's lead down to 51-41. But the Wildcats erased the Tigers' momentum with ten unanswered points to put the game out of reach.

 

Kentucky actually dictated the game after the 15:16 mark of the first half when LSU held a 13-12 lead. Over the next six minutes, Prince found the open spots on the outside against LSU's zone and erupted for eleven points, hitting three shots from behind the arc and another under the basket. He cooled off in the second half and finished the game with 18 points.

 

"When (LSU) went zone early, it surprised me a little," said Prince. "We'd been working on it in practice a couple days. Their zone is a little bit different than anybody else's. When we knocked shots down from the inside and got it to the end zone, (LSU) had to go man-to-man or change their zone.

 

"If we didn't knock down our shots early from the perimeter, we would have struggled because they would have stayed in their zone."

 

Kentucky guard Cliff Hawkins used dribble penetration against the LSU zone to record eight assists in the first half. Keith Bogans provided eight points in opening 20 minutes but was benched the last 18 minutes of the game for taking a shot too early for the taste of head coach Tubby Smith, who picked up his 250th head coaching win.

 

"We took care of the ball in the first half, only having two turnovers" said Smith. "But we had ten in the second half and that is a real concern. I thought we did a good job defensively, and we have been pretty consistent with that effort all year."

 

With Kentucky leading 42-28 at halftime, the Tigers came out aggressively on defense in the second period and cut the Wildcats advantage to nine. Bright started the LSU run with a steal on the opening inbounds play of the half and converted a three-pointer. Jules Camara's basket from under the backboard was the only field goal for Kentucky in the opening 2:20 that ended with Bright making two free throws for a 44-35 score.

 

But it was as close as LSU would get the rest of the game, as a 7-0 run from Kentucky kept the Tigers at a double-digit distance. LSU kept up its aggressive defense and got opportunities on the inside, but turnovers and misses at close range stymied its comeback attempts.

 

"We didn't want to give (LSU) anything easy," said Kentucky forward Chuck Hayes. "We saw in film study that they like to attack the basket real hard. If we just limit that and just let them take jump shots, maybe we can contain them and come away with a win."

 

For the game, LSU shot a season-low 33.3 percent (17-57) from the field. The Tigers won the rebounding battle, 42-34, including 20 offensive boards, but they came up short on the majority of their second-chance opportunities.

 

Williams slam dunk was his only field goal, as his other five points came fro the free throw line where LSU shot 14-of-20 as a team.

 

LSU added to its problems with 15 turnovers against seven assists, while Kentucky had 18 assists with 12 turnovers.


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